The Quileute also known as the Quillayute are a Native American people in western Washington state in the United States, currently numbering approximately 2000. The Quileute people settled onto the Quileute Indian Reservation (47°54′23″N 124°37′30″W) after signing the Quinault Treaty in 1855. It is located near the southwest corner of Clallam County, Washington at the mouth of the Quillayute River on the Pacific coast. The reservation’s main population center is the community of La Push, Washington. The 2000 census reported an official resident population of 371 people on the reservation, which has a land area of 4.061 km² (1.5678 sq mi, or 1,003.4 acres).
The federally recognized Quileute tribe has its own government, which consists of an elected tribal council with staggered 3-year terms. The current tribal council consists of: Charles Woodruff (chairman), Rio Jaime (vice-chair), Naomi Jacobson (secretary), Crystal Lyons (treasurer), and Tony Foster (member at large).
The Quileute language belongs to the Chimakuan family of languages among Northwest Coast indigenous peoples. The Quileute language is an isolate, as the only related aboriginal people to the Quileute, the Chimakum, were destroyed by Chief Seattle and the Suquamish people during the 1860s. The Quileute language is one of only six known languages lacking nasal sounds (i.e., m and n).
Like many Northwest Coast natives, in pre-colonial times the Quileute relied on fishing from local rivers and the Pacific Ocean for food. They built plank houses (longhouses) to protect themselves from the harsh, wet winters west of the Cascade Mountains. The Quileute, along with the Makah, were once also whalers.
Historically the Quileute were talented builders and craftsmen. Like many other tribes in the region, they were excellent boat and canoe makers. They could make canoes for whaling, which could hold tons of cargo and many men. They had cedar canoes ranging in size from small boats that could hold two people to giant vessels up to 58 metres (190 ft) long and capable of holding up to 6,000 pounds. The modern clipper ship’s hull uses a design much like the canoes used by the Quileutes. The Quileutes used the resources from the land to make tools and other items. In the region, almost everything was made out of wood. Necessities like utensils, clothing, weapons, and paints were made from the available natural resources. In terms of arts and crafts, the Quileute Tribe is best known for their woven baskets and dog-hair blankets. The tribe would raise specially bred, woolly dogs for their hair, which they would spin and weave into blankets. They would also weave incredibly fine baskets that were so tightly woven that they could hold water. They could boil water in some of them. Using cedar bark, they made waterproof skirts and hats to shield their bodies against the heavy rainfall in the region.
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